Washington, D.C. May 29, 2018 — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which means that for now, Arkansas has become the first state in the country to ban medication abortion, and ended access to abortion at all but one health center in the state (down from three). This morning, Planned Parenthood is notifying patients that they can no longer come for their procedures and can no longer access medication abortion at all, even if it’s their personal preference or medically indicated. Now, women who would have otherwise been able to have an abortion in Fayetteville will be forced to go out-of-state for an abortion or make a 380-mile round-trip (more than 5 hours of travel time) to access an abortion in Little Rock.
Planned Parenthood vowed to move swiftly for emergency relief in the district court.
This law, which requires medication abortion providers to contract with a second doctor who holds hospital admitting privileges, is nearly identical to a Texas restriction already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. The Eighth Circuit’s ruling required additional findings from the district court to block an abortion restriction, even though the law will impact all women seeking medication abortion in the state. The case now goes back to the district court, and Planned Parenthood will present the evidence the court needs to protect women from this extremely burdensome and medically unnecessary law.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion. This dangerous law immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state. If that’s not an undue burden, what is? This law cannot and must not stand. We will not stop fighting for every person’s right to access safe, legal abortion.”
Statement from Dr. Brandon Hill, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:
“We are deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to deny Arkansas women the opportunity to be heard. Act 577 is the triumph of politicians over science, and it’s women who will suffer as a result. Its requirements are dangerous and medically unnecessary, and they are nothing more than a repackaged version of the restrictions struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health. We are working urgently to restore access to medication abortion services at our health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock. We will not stop fighting to ensure that every woman has access to essential, constitutionally-protected care, without politicians controlling when, how or why.”
In 2016, the Supreme Court clearly ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that abortion restrictions that are medically unnecessary and burden women are unconstitutional. In that landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law requiring that abortion providers hold hospital admitting privileges. Yet, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block a nearly identical Arkansas law, requiring certain factual findings which we will now urge the district court to make. If this law is allowed to continue, it will be hardest for people who already face barriers to care, including people of color, young people, and those with low incomes.
While Arkansas politicians are doing everything they can to block access to abortion, support for access to safe, legal abortion is at a record high, with nearly 70 percent of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade — the highest rate since the case was decided more than 40 years ago.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.